Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hard Hearts

MATTHEW 13:14-23

Matthew 13:15, "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."

The word "waxed" means "to become gradually more intense or to increase" and shows that this condition of the heart is not something we are born with or that strikes us suddenly. It has to be nurtured over a prolonged period of time. This is why we should not violate our conscience, even in small things. Guarding our conscience will keep us sensitive to God and will stop our hearts from becoming hardened. If we will stay faithful to God, even in the small things, then we will be faithful in the more important things also.

Keeping the commandments doesn't affect God's willingness to love us, but it affects our awareness of how much He loves us. If we live in sin, our conscience becomes defiled and it condemns us. It's not God condemning us, but our conscience. God still loves us.

John was speaking of this same thing in 1 John 3:20, when he said, "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." However, as far as this earthly life goes, our awareness of God's love is everything. Therefore, we must keep Satan from blinding us to the love of God.

The most effective way of doing this is to give no place to the devil through sin. John went on to say in 1 John 3:21, "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." Holiness is essential in keeping our hearts assured of the love of God (1 Jn. 3:19).

It's the nature of a Christian to walk in the light and not in darkness. When you are rightly informed of who you are and what you have in Christ, holiness just naturally flows out of you. That's your nature.

Visit Andrew's Website.

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America's Top 50 Worst Charities

Tampa Bay Times has a report on the 50 worst charities, ranked by how much of the contributions are blown into soliciting costs.  These figures were assessed through the latest 10 years of federal tax filings.

God put within us a desire to give, to come to the aid of those less fortunate, but we need to be careful about who we give to so that we can be considered a good steward of the finances God entrusts to us.

Recognize any place you've contributed to?  Hopefully not.  Most of these use telemarketing to get their funds.  It's incredible to me that anybody would give over the telephone, especially to organizations they probably never heard of prior to the call.  We don't even let the person get their written script stated before saying, "Per the law, I'd like to be removed from your calling list.  We do not contribute to organizations that use telemarketing.

Consider some of these reportings:

Organization (% of contribution actually spent on direct cash aid)

Kids Wish Network (2.5%)
Cancer Fund of America (.9%)
Children's Wish Foundation Int'l (10.8%)
American Breast Cancer Foundation (5.3%)

Read the entire article.

Recover From Germ Phobia

by Steven Horne 

There are two theories out there about germs and disease, not just one.

The first theory says that says germs cause disease. This “germ theory” was advanced by Louis Pasteur, and it’s become so popular most people accept it as fact.

The second theory says that germs attack weakened tissue and that if tissue is healthy there is no breeding ground for infection.  This theory was advanced by a contemporary of Pasteur named Antoine Beauchamp and is known as the biological terrain theory.  Read the entire article.

Bathing Pets at Home

Video by Dr. Sarah

This month’s episode of Pet Talk with Dr. Sarah is for the procrastinators, the surprised and … basically anyone with a companion animal who has a dirty coat.

Maybe your spouse has invited some co-workers over for dinner. Or maybe, your in-laws have announced they’ll be staying with you next week. Perhaps your regular groomer unexpectedly left town.

Whatever the reason, you have an immediate and pressing need to make sure your pup is looking – and smelling – her absolute best. No matter the reason, a bath at home could offer the perfect solution. And Dr. Sarah is on-hand to show you exactly how it’s done.

If you want to know the tricks to make a dog’s coat feel luxurious, totally shiny and clean, watch this episode of Pet Talk now

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Newsletter - 4/15/14

View This Newsletter On the Website.

""I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour if we will only tune in." -- George Washington Carver

Hello Dear Friends!

Donna and Benjamin - 2/23/82
I've had so many comments about y'all enjoying the old photos of me ... or should I say, the younger photos of me.  I am still working back through all my print photos and scanning them in to put them on digital (CDs and DVDs).  It's been a nice winter distraction as it was last winter.

We celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary on April 9.  I remember years back meeting somebody that had been married for 25 years and I thought how ancient that sounded.  We had an Asian lunch and went down memory lane for most of the day thinking about the hours before, during and after the wedding ... and then our honeymoon in Quebec City, Canada.

I'm going to be doing a post on the subject of "America's Worst Charities" but it won't be out before this newsletter goes, so here's a link if you'd like to be sure YOU are not giving to charities that may be only using 3% of what's given toward the actual cause.  You might be surprised to see what's on this Top 50 list.  We've always used websites to check out a new place we were considering  giving to.  The websites we use are included on this web page also on the left side.  Check out America's Worst Charities.

The daytime temps have been in the 60's pretty regular now and I have so enjoyed spending time with God outside on the deck and screened porch.  Getting to look up at the amazing blue sky with the bare trees is a glorious sight, although I will be totally thrilled to have the leaves back on the trees.  They are budding up.

None of our plants have been progressing rapidly with the colder nighttime temperatures.  Last week we had some nights below freezing.  It seems that we've already "lost" part of our Springtime, but getting time outdoors for even part of a day is absolutely wonderful to me!  And it is more consistently warmer this week.

We brought out the hummingbird feeders since the Ruby-throated Hummingbird arrives in mid-April here in Central Virginia.  It's always exciting to see "our" hummingbirds return.   Want to know when they will arrive in your area?  This hummingbird migration website has each state listed on this page.  If you get more than one species it tells you when each will arrive.  Here we only get the Ruby-throated.  The Rufous has been seen during migration, but we've never seen it on our property.

With the cooler weather the Yellow-rumped Warblers had been staying around longer than usual.  They arrive in flocks so it's a pretty sight to see all the patches of yellow in a drab winter landscape.  These birds are sometimes called Butterbutts because of their bright yellow patch above the tail feathers.  They eat wild seeds but when scarce they will come to feeders for sunflower seeds, raisins, peanut butter, and suet.

View Enlarged Image
Rear View of Yellow-rumped Warbler on Deck Rail
Suet is what they really enjoy here at Bluebird Cove, but we see them on the sunflower feeders now and then also.  They will head north to breed so we won't be seeing them much longer.  Read more about Yellow-rumped Warblers.

We have the White-throated Sparrows, with their painted by God look of wonder, with us all Winter and about this time of year the Chipping Sparrows (Photo at Occoneechee State Park in Clarksville, VA) return and the White-throats take off.  It's always an interesting trade off like there's some formal agreement between them.

The hawk has been lunching at our place and that's a real hard fact of nature that I don't take too well.  I don't mind hawks getting food, but not on my property.  It reminds me of the bait and kill method of hunting where hunters put food and salt licks out to attract the deer and then just shoot them off. 

I was on the screened porch one day and heard all the birds scream out their alarm call while they flew for protective covering.  The doves have a flight speed of up to 55mph but they are certainly no match for a hawk.  I thought the hawk may have taken one of the doves since I did see only one flying away.

They must've flown above the house and then doubled back around because some bird hit the screen on the porch and you could hear it drop.  It was all a flash and I ran to go outside so that the hawk wouldn't get the downed dove, but it had already swooped in and taken it from where it had fallen I guess because it wasn't there.

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Mourning Dove on Deck
Many doves fall prey to hunting (allowed in many states) and predation by hawks, such as the Cooper's Hawk that stakes out backyard feeders, especially in the winter months.  Cooper’s Hawks are superb and powerful flyers, capable of rapid flight through dense vegetation, twisting with circuitous flight at high speeds and low levels. Prey may be taken on the ground, in flight, or in trees or bushes. They may even pursue prey into dense underbrush on foot.

Doves mate for life so now we seem to have a lone male plus our other Mourning Dove pair.  Banding studies reveal that Mourning Doves can live up to 10 years in the wild. Northern populations are migratory, and the mortality rate of juveniles can be as high as 70% in their first year of life. We have doves all year here in Central Virginia.  I am hoping our lonely male can attract a female. 

In grade school we learn that plants need water and light to grow. That they gather energy from the sun and water from the earth and rain.  Although the news isn't new as far as announcement, I just learned that a biological research team has made a discovery that at least one plant has another way of doing this.

The green alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, not only engages in photosynthesis, but also has an alternative source of energy it can draw from.  Other plants.  : it can draw it from other plants. When faced with an environmental shortage, these single-cell plants can draw energy from neighboring vegetable cellulose instead.  This finding could also have a major impact on the future of bioenergy.  Check out the story in Science Daily.

I am always excited when science catches up with the amazing wonder of God's Creation.  We have so blatantly destroyed so many things that He provided for us in our ignorance and greed for the sake of convenience.  Discoveries like these make you wonder what is now extinct that would have played a role in making life better for us.  God's love provided it all for our pleasure and we were made for His pleasure.

Consider ... nothing can separate you from the love of God.  Not angels or demons, not principalities or powers.  Nothing in this world or out of it (Romans 8:38-39)!  May you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is (Ephesians 3:18) 

God tells us "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13)  When you set your mind on God's love for you, all of His promises become more real and accessible.  You close the door on the devil's deception.  The doubts he throws into your mind as he did with Adam and Eve will no longer penetrate. 

Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2).  Choose to not doubt God's love like you would set a cruise control on a car and no longer doubt that it will keep you going 55 miles per hour.  Never allow another thought to come in contrary to that love.  Like cruise control, when a bit of a hill in the road comes before you, kick in a little extra power from within and choose to continue to believe The Word.

Remember ... Angels rejoice over you (Luke 15:10), demons flee from you (James 4:7), and God Himself dances over you with singing (Zechariah 3:17).

Have a Joyous Spring!

P.S. Anything in here that might help somebody you know?
Here's a link to the online version of this newsletter:

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How To Grow Vegetables In A Bucket

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Rest And Receive Your Miracle

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Friday, April 11, 2014

God Adores You!

by Donna L. Watkins

I was studying the early chapters of Genesis about God's creating the earth and man. They were His delight and He said it was very good. After everything else He created He said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." Isn't it astounding that we are created to "take after" the likeness of God the Father and Jesus?

Within our bodies is a special place called our spirits that God put in us so that He could dwell there. The Bible tells us that God is spirit and He communicates to us in spirit. That in itself is so incredible. How could we have any self-image problems when we are created in the image of the Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth!

But more than that, I noticed something else. In Genesis 1:28 it tells us that God blessed them (Adam and Eve). When I looked up the Hebrew word for 'blessed' I found that it meant, "to kneel, to adore." Think about that! God kneeling down before His crowning creatures adoring Adam and Eve. NOT in worship or as if man should be worshiped.

The definition of the word "blessed" has nothing to do with worship. It is simply the picture of a Father overwhelmed with love for a child that has just come from the Mother's womb. He adores that child and can hardly believe it is something that was created from within himself. He holds the child and prays blessings over it. The definition for the word "adoration" is this: Profound love or regard. Imagine this! Doesn't it make you feel special and so well loved?

I've heard it said that the "death" that occurred after the Fall was the death of relationship with God as He originally intended. Man's reaction was to cover up and avoid God. Adam said he feared Him. God still loved His crowning creation but He couldn't allow them to live in the Garden because if they ate of the Tree of Life they would live forever and that now meant they would live forever in sin, because it had entered into them with their choice to believe the lies of the devil.

Sin increases once it enters into a man. This is why God had to destroy so many people in the Old Testament. They couldn't be saved - sin had not been atoned for through Christ, so they were stuck in the sin that they made themselves part of and to prevent the whole human race from becoming contaminated with sin, these people had to be destroyed.

He had done that once with a flood, but after that He promised that He would never do that again, but God had to destroy sin to preserve a people unto Himself. How would He ever have a virgin who could bear the Son of God? Sin was passed down through generations and sometimes even the animals were full of sin since having "relations" with them was the norm in idolatrous religions.

One of the first steps toward sin is dissatisfaction with what we have. This is what Satan used to deceive Adam and Eve. He made them think they were missing something when they had everything. People who are secure in who they are in Christ will not fall for the temptations of the devil. Although the Lord wasn’t the one responsible for man committing sin, He took responsibility for covering man’s nakedness after he sinned ... still a God of love. Man could only make aprons from fig leaves.

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Bees on Bull Thistle
Shenandoah National Park
The Lord killed an animal to cover their nakedness with hides. Even in our sin, God takes better care of us than we can ourselves. It took the shedding of blood to cover man’s sins. This was an illustration of what would later take place through the atonement of Christ. How awesome! The entire Old Testament is full of "types and shadows" of Christ's coming. God always had a plan of redemption for us.

Timing is something we don't understand since the Bible says, "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day" (2 Peter 3:8). But we know that Jesus did come and that "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2) That means for all future time. Before we were born our sins were atoned for. When Christ said, "It is finished," it was.

Our Father wants to bless us. "He who did not keep back His only Son, but gave Him up for us all, will He not with Him freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32)

 Our Abba Daddy wants to have relationship with us like He had with Adam and Eve. To walk and talk with us daily. In the temple or synagogue the Holy of Holies is where God resided and only the priest could enter there and only once a year. When Jesus died, the temple veil (curtain) of the Holy of Holies was torn from top to bottom breaking wide open the access to the area where we could fellowship with God. Now we are His temple. He resides within us and wants to dwell with you in love.

I have gained a lot more understanding of the mystery of this from a book that my sweet friend, Lynn, gave me. It is one that I read a few pages at a time and then asked God to reveal to me what He wanted me to know from that information. I've read it more than once and keep getting a new revelation each time. The title is "The Temple Within: Fellowship with an Indwelling Christ." This link takes you to Amazon where you can read some of the book and also reviews.

One of my favorite Scriptures that makes me smile and melt before the Lord is Zephaniah 3:17. I like to personalize it when I read Scripture. "The Lord my God takes great delight in me, He quiets me with His love, and rejoices over me with singing." God literally adores you!

 He says, "And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13).

It takes more than the five minutes you have before your favorite TV program. It takes more than a list of requests in prayer at bedtime. But the rewards are awesome. You will be able to rise above circumstances. You will find peace and joy unknown to you before. Seek Him .... with all your heart!

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Simple Nest Boxes for Cavity-Nesting Bees

View Enlarged Image
Mason Bee Nesting Box
We put up a Mason Bee Nesting Box in 2006 and have so enjoyed knowing we're producing pollinators for our garden.  Pollinators are really challenged these days with all the pesticides and herbicides being used.  It feels good to add a positive side to the bad news.

There's a great article on the bees emerging from a similar nest box.  You can see their cute little faces and learn more about how they nest.

To get a better view of our nest box with the mud-sealed nests, view the enlarged image.

You can make these nesting boxes out of untreated wood or you can also buy them, but there's another method that can be used to provide a bee nesting spot to your garden.  They will nest in the stems of your garden plants, so you can gather up a bunch of them and make a different Mason Bee Box with illustrations in this article.